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Just a Late NIght Pain Rant

TurtleShellsTTurtleShells Posts: 10
During my endless hours of scouring the internet for Lumbar problem information, I often found forum posts from spine-health.com come up in my various Google searches. I've spent many hours reading the posts here... I've gathered a ton of useful information, shed tears of sympathy (in a manly way, of course) to many, and honestly hoped I'd never find the need to sign up for an account here.

But here I am. :(

I'm 48. I had chronic (but tolerable) lower back pain for years. Went to a LBP specialist 20 years ago, was basically told to "deal with it", and that's exactly what I've done. Well, until April 28 of this year. I'm an airline pilot. I awoke in the hotel on day 2 of a 3 day trip, and immediately knew that my normal chronic LBP was, in fact, anything but normal. I've had a few "pinched nerves" over the years, and this was a classic one. At least I thought it was. The pain continued to get worse, but I did finish my trip out.

I arrived home late at night, nearly in tears from the pain of driving the 130 miles home from the airport. I awoke my wife, giving her the news.

The LBP peaked after about four days, then started getting better. The LBP had almost completely resolved, when a new to me symptom hit: the front of my thigh hurt... and it hurt *bad*. I'd never had any leg related pain, so this was a new one for me.

So, off to the doc I went. The usual imaging was done... xrays and MRI. The MRI was a laundry list of Lumbar problems. I was fortunate enough to find a fantastic neurosurgeon here in my little part of the world. Oddly, I had very pronounced leg weakness in various muscle groups in my left leg. I had no idea this weakness had developed until he examined me. So we developed a course of action. I would have a three level fusion (L3-4, L4-5, and L5-S1) along with laminectomies and bilateral foramenotomies at all levels. All supported by a myriad of hardware.

My surgery was June 29, 2015.

Overall, the recovery had been good. My back pain during recovery has averaged out to be far less than my previous chronic LBP, and the majority of the muscle weakness has resolved. So that's the good news. The bad news is that the pain on the front of my left thigh has gotten worse over time. I'm writing this in the wee hours of the morning, as I'm not able to sleep due to the darn pain.

This type of pain is something I have never experienced before. There's a large patch of skin on the front of my thigh that alternates between being numb and being hypersensitive to any stimulus at all. Even the weight of light fabric jammy bottoms is enough to feel like fire on that section of thigh. Just moving the hair (I'm a guy, remember? : ) ) in that area is painful. The icing on the proverbial cake is the stabbing sensations. At various times, it feels like someone is stabbing me with either a large electric needle, or a large electric ice pick in various places in that patch of skin. The stabbing sensations (which reach an 8-9 on the pain meter) are usually of fairly short duration. Five, maybe fifteen seconds at the longest. Then the area around the "stabbed" area becomes *extremely* hypersensitive for anywhere between a few minutes to a few hours. Tonight, the time between stabs has decreased to just a few minutes. After that time passes, I'll get a series of stabs, and the cycle repeats.

Of course, this all got worse over the weekend. Actually, it started getting worse last Thursday night. My wife wanted to call the Doc on Friday but me being a bull headed guy, I said "Nah, I'll be fine. I'm sure it's nothing." And so began the worst weekend of my life.

So the Doc will be called in 7 hours and 32 minutes from right now. Not that I'm counting.

I'm hoping that he'll tell me that it's the normal process of nerves recovering from damage, and that it's nothing a few more weeks of pain meds won't get me through. But something in the back of my head tells me it's not going to be that easy. Even if a few more weeks of pain meds does do the trick, I will have been on pain meds for 7 weeks straight by then. I have no idea how long it takes to develop a physical dependency on opiates, but wow... 7 weeks straight seems like it should be long enough to make coming off of them a bit rough.

My mind is swimming with possible outcomes... some good, some bad, some truly terrible. But for some reason, writing this all down seems to be therapeutic in it's own right. Knowing that there are others out there fighting this same awful thing somehow helps...and I truly wish each of you the best.

Thanks for reading. :D

--TurtleShells
(My little girl calls my back brace a "Turtle Shell")
L3-4 - L5-S1 Lumbar fusion (3 levels)
L3, 4, 5 Laminectomies
L3 - S1 bilateral partial facet resections with grade 1 osteotomies
L2 left hemilaminectomy
L2-L3 left foraminotomy
L3 -S1 posterior instrumentation (looks really cool in the avatar xray)
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Comments

  • LizLiz Posts: 9,694
    please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

    i am sure that you will find your time on spine-health very rewarding. this site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and growing.
    here are just some of the highlights that are available as tabs on the main spine-health menu bar

    spine-health main menu tabs

    conditions detailed medical libraries of articles and videos that address almost every spinal condition.
    treatment list of treatments to the conditions identified by spine-health.
    wellness section contains articles, tips and videos to help patients after surgery and also to help people avoid surgery.
    medical articles
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    videos index to all spine-health videos



    as a bonus, spine-health provides these patient forums. here you can meet thousands of people who understand and can relate to your situation. you will soon become part of the spiney family[/u] who provide comfort and the advantages of a support system. you are now part of this family that is approximately 27,00 international members and growing daily.

    important

    - it is very important to understand the forum rules to make sure all of your posts[u] do not violate any of the rules.[/u]

    - all new members must read our faq in order to understand the layout of the forums, how to navigate through the forums, helpful terms, how to make effective threads and posts, plus a link index to many of the important medical forums and key medical articles on spine-health forum faq

    i am positive any member, new or old will find this chroinc pain - step by step thread very valuable.

    here are some links that all new members need to review to create effective threads and more

    read before you post
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    all of this will help make your threads better and improve the times and quality of responses you will receive.

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    liz


    savage

    also working with us very closely is allison walsh from the spine-health company

    awalsh











    Liz, 

    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Experience an increase or return of pain in post op, it can be scary and cause us to wonder what's wrong.
    Unfortunately, nerve pain can disappear and suddenly re-appear several days or weeks post op, and when it does, it is often with a vengence.
    It is typically caused by two things, compression of the nerves prior to surgery, and of course the surgery itself. During fusion surgery, the muscles, ligaments etc are moved to allow for the surgical instruments and to avoid injuring the nerves and other tissues.
    While the nerves may have been compressed prior to surgery, the surgery decompressed those nerves. It can take several days or weeks for the nerves to wake for lack of a better term, and this can cause a sudden onset of intense nerve pain.
    Typically, it settles down again on its own, given some time,but you have to keep in mind that nerve recovery can take some time, up to two years to recover. This doesn't mean that the nerve pain will continue to be this intense for all of that time, it will change as the nerves continue to heal and recover.
    There are medications which can ease the worst of it, gabapentin, lyrica,cymbalta are a few of them.


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  • sandi123 said:
    Experience an increase or return of pain in post op, it can be scary and cause us to wonder what's wrong.
    Unfortunately, nerve pain can disappear and suddenly re-appear several days or weeks post op, and when it does, it is often with a vengence.
    It is typically caused by two things, compression of the nerves prior to surgery, and of course the surgery itself. During fusion surgery, the muscles, ligaments etc are moved to allow for the surgical instruments and to avoid injuring the nerves and other tissues.
    While the nerves may have been compressed prior to surgery, the surgery decompressed those nerves. It can take several days or weeks for the nerves to wake for lack of a better term, and this can cause a sudden onset of intense nerve pain.
    Typically, it settles down again on its own, given some time,but you have to keep in mind that nerve recovery can take some time, up to two years to recover. This doesn't mean that the nerve pain will continue to be this intense for all of that time, it will change as the nerves continue to heal and recover.
    There are medications which can ease the worst of it, gabapentin, lyrica,cymbalta are a few of them.
    Thanks for the reply, Sandi :)

    The Doc just told me the same thing about the nerve waking up. It's odd that such good news can be wrapped up in such an awful package. I was told that with the type of nerve impingement I had, it could take months for the pain to subside as the nerve comes back to life.

    So I'm starting Neurontin today. The Doc recommended staying on the Oxycodone until the Neurontin takes effect. I didn't realize Neurontin had a long onset of action, but he stated it would start to work in three days, with maximum effect hitting at about three weeks.

    I specifically asked to stay away from any of the nerve pain meds that had weight gain as a potential side affect. I dropped 80 pounds six years ago, have zero desire to gain it back, and I'm feeling particularly vulnerable to weight gain right now with how sedentary I am during this rather long recovery. I'm at a perfect 195 pounds for my six foot two frame, and darnit, it's gonna stay that way. :)

    Best wishes everyone,

    --TurtleShells
    L3-4 - L5-S1 Lumbar fusion (3 levels)
    L3, 4, 5 Laminectomies
    L3 - S1 bilateral partial facet resections with grade 1 osteotomies
    L2 left hemilaminectomy
    L2-L3 left foraminotomy
    L3 -S1 posterior instrumentation (looks really cool in the avatar xray)
  • TurtleShellsTTurtleShells Posts: 10
    edited 08/03/2015 - 6:37 PM
    Just took my first Neurontin a couple hours ago. After reading the laundry list of potential side effects, I was very hesitant. But then my leg told me, in no uncertain terms, what the alternative was. :( So down the hatch it went. Hopefully, it'll let both my wife and I get a decent night's sleep.

    Wishing everyone a pain free night,

    --TurtleShells
    L3-4 - L5-S1 Lumbar fusion (3 levels)
    L3, 4, 5 Laminectomies
    L3 - S1 bilateral partial facet resections with grade 1 osteotomies
    L2 left hemilaminectomy
    L2-L3 left foraminotomy
    L3 -S1 posterior instrumentation (looks really cool in the avatar xray)
  • It can take some time to reach the right dosage with neurontin (gabapentin), before you get to the right dose to ease the nerve pain, so you have to be a bit patient.
    Gabapentin has a huge dosage range 100 mg-3600 mg per day, and you have to increase slowly. When it is time to stop taking it, you have to slowly decrease the dose as well, so don't just stop taking it.
    Most of any side effects should diminish once your body adjusts to the med, so try to bear with it.
    Good luck.


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  • Hi I expect you are finding relief with your neurontin / gabapentin. The down side is they have very nasty side affects when you with draw from them. If you search previous posts people have a long battle to be free of the medication. Something I feel is not emphasised enough when you are first given them. Yes they help the pain. But what if you want to eventually be meds free? I don't know the answer all I know is I am still trying to reduce my dosage slowly and I have bad side affects including vision problems, nausea and insomnia.
    jill55
  • And most disappear as your body adjusts to the medication.
    The key with any medication is to slowly reduce the dosage. If you are having issues reducing the dosage, slow down the taper, either extending the number of days that you stay at the reduced dosage or reduce the dosage by a smaller amount. This usually resolves any problems with stopping a medication. Going too fast or reducing the dosage by too large an amount at one time can create problems.


  • Thanks for the replies, everyone. Yes, the Neurontin is starting to help, but I still get the stabs. Sometimes as bad as prior to the Neurontin, but overall it seems to dull the sharpness a bit.

    Today hasn't been very good. I've finally let it all hit me to the point that I was more than a little grumpy today. My wife has been nothing but sweet and supportive during this whole ordeal. Unfortunately, she has been on the receiving end of my grump. I did apologize profusely. I told her to imagine that there was a device strapped to her leg. The device had an arm on it, and at the end of the arm was a dagger. The device would randomly stab your leg with the dagger. You had no way to remove the device, and you had no idea when it was going to stab you again. And that sometimes it would stab you repeatedly, leaving your leg so sensitive that even light cloth feels like a second degree burn. So you wait... you wait and wait for the stabs to come. No end in sight... no control over it... Just wait. Wait for the stabbing pain to come.

    But at least this is good news...The nerve is waking up. Just hope to hell it reaches full consciousness soon.
    L3-4 - L5-S1 Lumbar fusion (3 levels)
    L3, 4, 5 Laminectomies
    L3 - S1 bilateral partial facet resections with grade 1 osteotomies
    L2 left hemilaminectomy
    L2-L3 left foraminotomy
    L3 -S1 posterior instrumentation (looks really cool in the avatar xray)
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